The restrictions around Covid-19 couldn’t dampen the joy and enthusiasm of the members of John Arnalukjuak High School’s (JAHS) Class of 2020 as they received their high school diplomas this past Friday, June 19, in Arviat.

Members of the Class of 2020 at John Arnalukjuak High School pump their fists in the air in triumph at Graffiti Rock in Arviat on June 19.
photo courtesy Lorraine Malla

JAHS teacher Gord Billard handled most of the still shot camera and video work throughout the week for the event, and he said getting the shots done wasn’t too bad at all despite the Covid-19 restrictions.

He said the individual grad portrait shots were done in the school porch on June 17 and 18, with only one grad at a time being allowed in the porch to have their portrait taken.

“When one grad left the next one came in and we had a couple of people helping to put their gowns and hats on, so it went quite smoothly,” said Billard.

“We respected the social distancing guidelines that are in place and everything went really well.

“The grad ceremony, itself, went without a hitch on a beautiful sunny day that saw 38 of our 40 grads in town to accept their diplomas.

“I was taking pictures furiously, we had a couple of video cameras on the go and we livestreamed it all on Facebook.”

Billard said the ceremony was followed by a grad parade around the community.

He said considering what everyone was trying to work around – the ceremony was shorter and sweeter than traditional grads of the past – everything went off really, really well.

“Everybody was very happy with the effort we put in to make this happen now.

“And everyone understood what’s going on in regards to the Covid situation and knew it wouldn’t be like a regular grad, so they were all prepared for things to be a bit different, I believe.

“The students who came in for pictures and showed up on grad day wearing their gowns and hats on their Hondas were all in really good spirits and everyone there seemed to be in a good mood.

“There were tears of happiness with some grads and their parents and, despite the way it happened, I don’t think anything was taken away from what we normally experience at a traditional grad.”

Billard said instead of having a banquet where the grads get to invite three or four people to their table, JAHS gave out a food hamper to all of the graduate families.

He said the families had three different choices in the food hamper they received; a turkey dinner, traditional country food or one comprised of different frozen meals.

“We presented the graduates with a certificate that was made here at the school, and their official government certificates and everything will come in August.

“I’ll be putting all the individual grad pictures from the photo shoot and the ones I took during the presentation ceremony on 40 USB sticks that we can present to each of the students, as well.

“Overall, everyone came together and did their best considering the circumstances and it was a truly memorable day when all was said and done.”

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Darrell Greer

Darrell Greer is Editor of Kivalliq News

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